When involved in a branding project my usual approach to the logo design has been to create as many ideas as I can, as quickly as I can, from the start. I expand on them, I diversify them and I drill them down to a final few (my ai. files tend to get quite messy!).

As I go along, I form my ‘favourites.’ The ones I think will serve the client and importantly their audience, the best. I used to then create a spec sheet with my favourites, which could be up to 6 logo variations. Of course, within that 6 I would have my absolute favourite, the one I think will truly work better than the rest.

I then present the client with that spec sheet and keep my fingers crossed that they choose the best one.

Why on earth would I do that?

Ask yourself why

I think it came from my early experiences while working with clients. I would do my best to try and please the client and have them say the wonderous words “woah, I really like that!” So I would create a bunch of logos so my chances were higher of them liking at least one of them.

Unfortunately, this was not always the case. I would often hear them say that they wanted ‘more of this’ and ‘less of that.’ So if I did those things they would then really like the work I did for them, right?

Well, not always.

Some would still ask me to go create something else. Whether that was because they were being really picky or I just wasn’t getting it quite right, it’s hard to tell.

Recently, I started to think that the reason this was happening was actually my own doing.

I saw this post on Sean McCabe’s site about a ‘one concept approach.’ They spoke about presenting one polished concept to the client in their podcast, which is great listen.

After listening, I started to think more deeply about how I was presenting my work to the client. Unintentionally, I was not only devaluing my work but I was not actually doing my job properly. As a designer, it is our job to create the brand that works best for the client. It isn’t to open them up to the possibility of choosing a less effective option. So why would I give them choices when inevitably one choice is worse than the others?

We are the skilled professionals that should be helping them make that choice. We know what we are talking about. We research the client, their competition, find out about their audience and we design for them.

I became a victim of my own grievances with design culture. That being that it’s all subjective and about aesthetics. I worked so hard to have the client say that they liked my designs, that I even opened them up to choosing something that was less effective.

Branding isn’t about making something look nice, heck, it isn’t even about your client ‘liking’ your design (it does help though). It’s to create a brand that communicates effectively to the clients audience. Whether the client likes the color blue or dislikes Gotham is meaningless.

One Concept

So why not give the client just one concept? Why not hone that one concept that you think is going to work best for them and present it to them in such a way that they understand that you know what you are talking about and that you have done your research. Don’t give them the opportunity to slip up and choose something less effective. They are paying you money (hopefully!) for your skills and expertise. This is your field. So do it right! Tell them what the best option is for them.

They could still disagree, fine, they are the client after all and you need them to sign off on your work. But you have done your job properly by creating the concept that works best, if after that they go in a different direction, then so be it. At least you have done your duty as a designer and not succumbed to the all too easy pitfall of trying to please your client with less effective variations.

I presented a client with my first one concept approach the other week. Do you know what happened? They were blown away, they loved it. Nothing to change or alter. They saw the depth in it and the research behind it. The one concept approach is either a killer or I got lucky with a great client.

Even if it is not always a first shown-first accepted kind of deal. I have to believe that showing one crafted concept is far better than leaving your client with the chance to choose a less effective outcome.